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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Three from Rome

I have been few days in Italy visiting the family and enjoying my vacations; needless to say I had an amazing time. Few days in Rome and few others in Tuscany allowed me to grab quite a few Gigabytes of images with my D90.  For these two weeks I borrowed a Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 that I have used a lot. Is not a lens designed for an APS sensor but I must say that was tough for me to unscrew it from the camera. What a superb piece of engineering! What a sharpness! It has been an unfortunate move to carry it with me, now I brutally raised my quality demand, and in addiction to that I also put my eye on the 70-200 f2.8VR to replace the already sold 18-200VR.  I’m longing for a fast bankruptcy because they would both work well with a FX body…..

Anyway, back to Rome for the moment. I took my wife for some brief sightseeing visits and collected most of the shots during a late afternoon one that eventually stretched into the night. Being together with someone who wants to see things and walk around at a different pace than yours is not the best option to do the things properly but she’s patient and I had my share of time. As a matter of fact I also carried my tripod, which is not known for being a tool that fastens things up.
The Gianicolo is one of those spots you must visit. Is one of the roman hills and the view you get from there is quite staggering. Rome spreads in front of your eyes like a renaissance painting, the old mixes with the new and the churches’ domes scratch the polluted sky. The sky was dark but the sun was finding its way through the clouds giving me the chance to grab at least a dramatic light. For this image I did a bit of work in Lightroom, transforming it in a duotone and pumping up the contrast. For the original shot I used a ND Grad filter but I enhanced a bit more the sky with an additional grad filter in post.
Then it got dark and it was that magical hour when the tungsten lit buildings create that amazing contrast against the dark blue sky. I love this time of the day, even an average image collects few extra points, and most of them are quite elegant to say at least. Doesn’­­t last for too long though, so you have to work pretty fast to seize the moment. In this case I had a problem with quite a bulky and dark object in the foreground, name it statue: Marco Aurelio’s. I took a first shot, and it was quite poor. With a 30 seconds exposure I had the sky well exposed as well as part of the building, but the statue was pitch dark and the lights burned out. So I took a different approach; slowed the exposure to 20 seconds and pulled the SB800 out of the waist jacket. I don’t know how many times I have used the speedlight so far to dramatically change the result of an image, being this animated or not, this for sure has been one of those. With the camera on the tripod, during the whole length of the exposure I painted the statue with the flash and pulled out most of the details not long before hidden in dark shadows.
When the sky turned black I was still around Piazza Venezia trying to figure out how to make a decent image with so many people around, work in progress, cars and bad lights. Finally I decided to go for the Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Maria, in front of the Foro Traiano including the famed Colonna Traiana. There’s nothing really special in this image, but I had a ball working on the HSL in Lightroom retouching saturation, luminance and hue in most of the colors.

Obviously there’s much more photos in the laptop’s hard disk but either I had not much time to edit them, or they were not worth it. Soon more stuff about Rome though, maybe some museum….

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